The Wrongs of the Right: Language, Race, and the Republican Party in the Age of Obama

The Wrongs of the Right: Language, Race, and the Republican Party in the Age of Obama

The Wrongs of the Right: Language, Race, and the Republican Party in the Age of Obama

The Wrongs of the Right: Language, Race, and the Republican Party in the Age of Obama

Synopsis

In The Wrongs of the Right, Matthew W. Hughey and Gregory S. Parks set postracial claims into relief against a background of pre- and post-election racial animus directed at President Obama, his administration, and African Americans. They show how the political Right deploys racial fears, coded language and implicit bias to express and build opposition to the Obama administration. Racial meanings are reservoirs rich in political currency, and the race card remains a potent resource for othering the first black president in a context rife with Nativism, xenophobia, white racial fatigue, and serious racial inequality.

Excerpt

On November 5, 2008, the nation awoke to headlines, such as that of the New York Times, that read “OBAMA. Racial Barrier Falls in Heavy Turnout.” For many, the near-prophetic election of an African American to the highest position in the land is a watershed moment that confirms the declining significance of both race and racism in the nation. Accordingly, a wide variety of activists, cultural critics, and political pontificators issued pronouncements to that effect. Just after the election, Adam Geller of USA Today wrote, “The principle that all men are created equal has never been more than a remote eventuality in the quest for the presidency…. [T]hat ideal is no longer relegated to someday. Someday is now.” Approximately a year later, just after Obama’s January 2010 State of the Union speech, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews blurted out, “I forgot he was black tonight for an hour…. I said wait a minute, he’s an African American guy in front of a bunch of other white people.”

Despite the utopian proclamations that we now live in either a “color-blind” or a “post-racial” country, social-scientific research illuminates the grim reality that racial biases are more entrenched than ever. For example, white hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan have been on an unprecedented rise, which many scholars attribute to the outcome of the 2008 election. In early 2011, Donald Trump built a run for the Republican Party’s presidential candidate almost exclusively on the racist and xenophobic notion that Barack Obama was not born in the United States and that his educational entrance to, and accomplishments at, Columbia and Harvard were neither merited nor authentic. By the fall of 2011, the Washington Post broke a story that GOP candidate Rick Perry’s family rented Texas property with “Niggerhead” painted across a large rock that sat at the property’s gated entrance. By February of 2012, a federal judge sent an admittedly racist e-mail about . . .

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